• My number 1 most requested topic – Gatekeepers!

    Now we all have an image in our minds what a gatekeeper looks like, does this come close?10698854_s

    I remember being 16 with my mates and trying to get into pubs. I was useless! In my efforts to look older I managed to look 12, shrank to 4ft tall, reversed puberty and could sing “I’m walking in the air” so high only dogs could hear it.

    A strange thing happened though. Faced with the prospect of going home we tried again at a different pub. Second time round just as hopeless, but this time we changed a few things and by the fourth place, viola! Confidence, bravado, a bit of fun trying and the camouflage had worked.

    So now to Gatekeepers (Gatekeepers are people too). Their job is to smoothly filter calls to the right people and maintain efficiency by dealing with 1st level enquiries. For salespeople this sounds like “Send literature”, “Leave your number and if xxxxx would like to speak with you, they’ll call you back”, “Ill put you into voicemail…” and so on.

    When tackling this with clients, there’s stacks of things we cover from Tonality, vocabulary to rescuing, to Colombo (!). In the meantime, how about trying to learn a few tricks from teenagers too? If you were a Gatekeeper, which is the salesman & which would you feel you would be happy to let through?

    Lets face it, traditional salespeople are easy to spot! So here are a few tips: –

    • Remember your goals, its important you get through and don’t give up.
    • Don’t say or sound like a salesperson, visualise yourself as someone who would be put through
    • Be confident and PRACTICE
    • Relax, there is NOTHING to lose as you have nothing yet!
    • Don’t be afraid to let yourself be rescued
    • Expect to be knocked back a few times, it happens!
    • Start to build your confidence on accounts that are not critical to your business, approach these when you have built up your selling ‘muscle’.
    Chris Davies

    Chris Davies

    Chris Davies has spent over 35 years in both sales and leadership environments with companies such as Sony, Toshiba, IBM and others. Observing first-hand the declining effects of traditional, much copied selling methodologies. Typically, Chris works with business leaders, partners and top producers who are ready to work smarter and commit their time, money and energy to attract new clients, sell more products or services and generate more profits with integrity. Tel: 01525 280777 Mobile: 07891 055925

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  • Managing Behaviours not Results

    All salespeople will hold an annual target. Many will also have additional targets such as number of new accounts opened or mix of business won. All important measures but failure to achieve these targets tends to only become clear at the end of the sales year – too late to change the results. In addition some measures like size of pipeline and number of proposals produced can encourage poor qualification and deal selection.

    Studies have shown that salespeople who consistently perform best have a structured activity plan. They have a “cookbook” of specific weekly and monthly activity goals that include prospecting activities, new client meetings, existing client follow up calls etc.

    The top performing sales teams will adopt this good practice into their sales culture. The Sales Director’s role is to:

    • to agree the cookbook of short term activity targets with each sales person
    • implement a structured review process – preferably weekly
    • identify and address failure to deliver against the plan early
    • regularly review the cookbook and update as required

    The most common objection from Sales Directors is “but my sales people would not like being micro managed”. Of course they won’t, but if the approach is universally adopted as a company requirement they have two choices – comply or leave. Harsh, but building a high performance sales team requires significant cultural change in most organisations and not everyone will embrace that change.

    Implementing this approach tends to flush out those sales people who deep down do not have the hunger and will to succeed. The best sales people will see the benefits to themselves and will flourish. New staff introduced can be selected on their suitability for a more structured way of working.

    Steve Buiskool

    Steve Buiskool

    Steve Buiskool is Managing Director of Sandler Training in Cheltenham. He works with companies who wish to increase their return on the investment made in their sales team and with local business owners who need to improve their own business development skills. Prior to starting Sandler Cheltenham, Steve had a 25 year sales career including Sales Director positions with CapGemini and Capita. He also specialised in leading major deals in the IT, BPO and consulting markets. Tel: 01242 420750 Mobile: 0750 750 5996

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  • Manners make money

    9222592_sCome on Business types, let’s take £2,000 out of our bank accounts today and flush it down the loo or burn it. If you are worried about CO2 then lets shred the £20s and use it for Penguin nesting material.

    No? Stupid? Madness?

    If you treat Networking as just a lead engine then you are leaving free ‘£’s’ on the table!

    We all know the rules, “And what do you do….?” How many of us though, have already prejudged the answer? How many of us are guilty of switching off when the answer isn’t what we want to hear? How many of us are handed a lead and don’t provide feedback of how it went? How many of us see opportunities that help others but we don’t bother, as they don’t fit our client profile?

    I spoke to a Leisure company Operations Director this week who’d accompanied me to an Institute of Directors event in 2013. “I contacted a Web Designer from last years event”, she tells me. “Which one?”, I ask. Turns out of the two we met, one had switched off and his eyes started scanning the room for other “victims” mid sentence when she told him she studied Hypnotherapy, which is her hobby. So the quotation circa £10k has gone to the one who was courteous. The former’s card had been left behind, he will never know.

    In February I attended a Network event and spoke with a Doctor from a major University. Sadly, we had little in common as she was from the Energy Institute rather than The Business School but on my travels I met 3 small businesses with “Eco” credentials. So I wrote an introductory email to everyone so they could form a mini network. Outcome? Not one response from the SMBs leaving £8k in grants & coaching for others. Me? I’m invited to deliver commercial coaching in May – to the businesses that did respond.

    The Sandler Team all include Networking Skills within their training but today, have a thought for the things you should do for yourself.

    • Speak to everyone with an open mind and be genuinely interested in what they have to say. No need to invite them round for Christmas or adopt, just simple respect and active listening.
    • When you see an opportunity to pass on a lead/connections to others follow it up & do it. You will be the first they think of when an opportunity in your sector is mentioned.
    • If you are handed a lead follow it up regardless and let them know how you got on. It doesn’t matter if it’s any good or not, the next one might be and they are free AND save you a cold call! Don’t feedback and another supply of leads dries up.
    Chris Davies

    Chris Davies

    Chris Davies has spent over 35 years in both sales and leadership environments with companies such as Sony, Toshiba, IBM and others. Observing first-hand the declining effects of traditional, much copied selling methodologies. Typically, Chris works with business leaders, partners and top producers who are ready to work smarter and commit their time, money and energy to attract new clients, sell more products or services and generate more profits with integrity. Tel: 01525 280777 Mobile: 07891 055925

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  • What can Muhammad Ali teach us about selling?

    Sport and selling have a lot in common. They are both naturally competitive, both take skill and mental toughness, and no one wins all the time. Importantly you can’t control what your opponent does, you can only control you – how you prepare and how you react.

    Muhammad Ali is generally considered among the greatest heavyweight boxers in the sport’s history. An often controversial and polarising figure during his career, Ali is today widely regarded for not only the skills he displayed in the ring but also the values he exemplified outside of it:  freedom, justice and the triumph of principle over expedience.

    Ali was never afraid to speak out, and many of his sayings were pithy and insightful. I’ve picked out 3 below and highlighted the parallel selling lessons that we can learn :-

    The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.

    Selling is a busy life. There’s never nothing to do. As a result a lot of folk who find themselves with a target to hit are in a rush to get on with the job. A lot of ‘winging it’ happens.

    I have not yet met a salesperson who said ‘ I was too well prepared for that meeting’ or ‘ I had too much skill to deal with what was thrown at me’, and yet so few take a little time to get in better shape. What happens in a meeting with a prospect or customer will depend on how much preparation you have done – the questions you must ask, the responses to anticipated difficult moves or how you assert yourself for next steps that are in your interest. But also what happens will depend on how much practice you have put in. You should practice to skills of questioning, listening, dealing with pressure or staying in control, so that instinctively you will remain composed, professional and business-like, ‘long before you dance under those lights’

    It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.

    Selling often presents tough challenges. It’s not easy to meet your goals or win substantial opportunities. Good sales people will work to a plan but sometimes the biggest hurdles are the small things that are under our control but also those that can be easily ignored.  What is the pebble in your shoe? Is it managing your time to get priorities done, is it being better prepared, is it that you talk too much too soon, is it that you lack the courage to ask the tough questions, or to say No?  Remove the pebble in your own shoe and the climb becomes so much easier.

    A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.

    A lot of sales people tell me that they’ve been selling for 5, 10 or even 20 or more years. However, in terms of self-development it’s often 20 times 1. Whatever stage of your selling career you are at there’s always room to grow, to improve and to mature. One of the most beneficial but also the most difficult self-disciplines in selling is being able to take a few minutes to debrief what has happened to you – on a call, in a meeting or for the whole week.  Start a self-development journal – in the front page write the questions ‘ What worked well today and what didn’t? What lessons have I learned?  What would I do differently next time?

    It doesn’t take long but those few minutes will enable you to focus on where to change and develop, and will stop you wasting your life making the same mistakes, or even excuses, next time.

    Blog Editor

    Blog Editor

    Lisette Howlett edits the Sandler UK blog. If you have any questions or would like to submit a blog please contact her. Tel: 020 7484 5556 Email: Lisette.howlett@sandler.com

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